If a film is being made about Chicago, it better be accurate, because that’s something the natives to the city will appreciate, no matter what. At least that is the sentiment expressed by Brian Haggerty, a Chicago based actor who stars in the upcoming feature, School for Gods (2015, Paul John). “We refuse to abandon authenticity. We wanted to point out the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspect of Chicago.” Playing an “ignorant, insane, and racist old-school cop” named Dryko, Haggerty refers to the accurate depiction of the Windy City as a “double-edged sword” because “cops will be shown in a negative light,” as it remains a difficult balance that makes School for Gods authentic.
Currently the production manager for the Chicago field office of DigitArt Films and a producer for Midnight Cinema Film Production Company and DADA Creative, Haggerty has worked with major cable networks on shows like Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. “I evolved into acting through my comedy,” Haggerty continued. “I went everywhere and met so many people that I can help now.” Haggerty was the host and creator of the comedy routine The Fatty Fat Fat Show, which began in November 1990. “I spent years doing this, travelling to places like Texas and Las Vegas, while still performing regularly in Chicago. Eventually, the producers of the T.V. show The Bachelor saw my routine and contacted me for an upcoming show called More to Love. This was a big accomplishment for someone who was throwing keg parties and drinking and going onstage to perform. My whole desire was to be an MC for my own crowd and parties, and entertain people based on the budget of the host. They would tell me what they could afford, and I’d do what I could do. It became a question of: ‘how do you make something out of nothing?’”
In 2010, Haggerty’s life changed due to an unfortunate car accident. “The accident happened in April 2010, forty-eight hours before I had been contacted by Sirius Radio for a show. It would have been a huge step for me. But then I made mistakes and wound up serving a year and a half in prison.” Haggerty had hit a police officer’s car side while the cop was pulling someone else over. Before his sentence, Haggerty described himself as “carefree and non-chalant,” but afterwards, his attitude towards life changed. “It definitely saved my life, because I refused to do comedy afterwards. It just wasn’t right to stand up and joke about things like getting drunk after what I had experienced,” he said. Haggerty applied for an acting position in NBC’s Chicago Fire, and was eventually pulled into Chicago P.D. as well. Before getting involved with Midnight Cinema, Haggerty was a featured background actor in a handful of episodes for both shows.
Now at Midnight Cinema, Haggerty is more than proud to be a part of its first feature film, School for Gods. Aside from being a lead, Haggerty was a major help in the film’s set design and wardrobe, along with “minimal direction.” The most impressive aspect of this undertaking was the unsolicited assistance from pyrotechnic experts with whom Haggerty had worked with on Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. “They are from NBC, and I obviously won’t give their names, but we were incredibly grateful for their help,” Haggerty stated. “Our effects are therefore very professional in this film, unlike any other indie.”
In School for Gods, for the role of Dryko, Haggerty explains how growing up in a family of cops helped in his education of how to actually become a Chicago cop. Born in Canaryville and growing up in Bridgeport, Haggerty had a cluster of experiences to refer back to when working on the formation of Dryko. “I now understand why my father and my brother acted the way they did, why they are who they are today,” he said. “I had to go back to the ignorant mindset, because Dryko is exactly that, though much more extreme. He is the type of cop to put a gun in a dead man’s hand to justify shooting him, for example.” Aside from personal experience, Haggerty stated that it was a “blessing to have someone [also from NBC] work with me for eight months in order to hone the character of a Chicago police officer. It’s all about the pressure and the molding of agitation – I have a reason for anxiety when I am in the character of an officer.” Haggerty continued, saying he has a “newfound respect” for the Chicago police force. And the best part for him is that “actual cops themselves said I nailed the part. These are the officers who work on the street – it was a huge confidence booster for me.”
On the production of School for Gods, Haggerty explained that everyone “put their hearts and souls into it. The level of commitment was the best we could possibly give – we have lived, breathed, and died for this film.” Speaking exclusively about director Paul John, Haggerty stated that he was “very energetic and precise. He captures emotion in a specific way for the public to feel it.” Haggerty went on to say that John had the job of choosing 30 to 40 people out of 2,500 who applied, and that his choices were spot on. “He was behind the casting 100% of the time, and his style of directing is up-close-and-personal.” John recognized Chicago as the “melting pot” that it is, and despite the “difficulty in getting people to feed off one another, he pulled it off.”
“From my experiences, I have a unique sense of society,” Haggerty concluded. “People are always forgetting God, their parents, or the others who helped them get where they are today. I do what I do now to help somebody else.” Reflecting on the way filmmakers in Chicago all tend to know someone else and how the community is so tightly-knit, Haggerty makes sure to remember those who are truly passionate. “I need them to go further than me,” he said. “That’s winning for me. I’ve already gotten my ‘Academy Award’ because I’m not taking jobs to be the highlight. I’m always there to help.”
School for Gods is set for a late 2015 release as the first feature film from Midnight Cinema Film Production Company. It is currently in post-production and has already received offers from three major production companies for its release. Links to the film’s IMDb and Facebook pages can be found below, along with links to the film’s two trailers. Also provided are links to Brian Haggerty’s Facebook acting page and IMDb page.
School for Gods IMDb: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt4185852/
School for Gods Facebook fan page: https://m.facebook.com/SchoolForGodsMovie
School for Gods trailer #1: https://vimeo.com/109268766
School for Gods trailer #2: http://vimeo.com/114608187
Brian Haggerty’s IMDb: http://m.imdb.com/name/nm6675031/?ref_=m_tt_cl_i2
Brian Haggerty’s Facebook Acting Page: https://m.facebook.com/BrianHaggs